Mideast Stocks: Blue-chips lift Qatar, Banks boost Saudi

Kingdom holding, Saudi Telecom gain after Careem deal

Screens within the Saudi stock exchange showing trading data. Image used for illustrative purpose.

Screens within the Saudi stock exchange showing trading data. Image used for illustrative purpose.


Qatar's stock market rose on Wednesday, lifted by shareholder approval for an increase in foreign ownership limits at Qatar Fuel and Mesaieed Petrochemical, while Saudi Arabia rose on the back of its banks.

The Qatar index rose 1.7 percent, with 18 of 20 stocks increasing. Qatar Fuel added 4.2 percent and Mesaieed Petrochemical was up 5.8 percent.

Last year, their parent company, state-owned energy firm, Qatar Petroleum said it would raise the foreign ownership limit in its listed-units to up to 49 percent after limits on foreign ownership were amended. 

The increase in foreign ownership limit was approved by the companies' shareholders in their annual general meeting.

Qatar Fuel and Mesaieed could also be included in the MSCI emerging market index in May, which will bring in passive inflows of $231 million and $197 million, respectively, Arqaam Capital said in a note.

"This is primarily local as well as global investors, taking an active allocation in the names prior to their index inclusions and given the lack of liquidity in some of these names, this has led to the significant rally in prices," said Rami Jamal, portfolio manager at Amwal in Doha.

Qatar International Islamic Bank rose 1.4 percent. On Monday, the lender's shareholders also approved an increase in its foreign ownership limit to 49 percent from 25 percent.

Saudi Arabia's index added 1 percent with Al Rajhi Bank gaining 2.3 percent and National Commercial Bank, the country's largest lender, rising 2.9 percent.

Kingdom Holding and Saudi Telecom rose as they benefited from Uber's deal to buy Middle East's Careem.

Kingdom Holding increased 0.7 percent after selling its stake in the ride-hailing app for 1.25 billion riyals ($333.31 million), while Saudi Telecom rose 0.4 percent after saying it expects to receive around $274 million from the deal.

Last week, Saudi entered FTSE Russell's emerging-market index, and this year will join the MSCI emerging market benchmark.

Foreign investors in the Saudi market seem to have increased again as the first phase of its inclusion appeared to go seamlessly and as foreign investor concerns over locals oversupplying the market appear to have partially abated, Arqaam Capital said.

The Egyptian blue-chip index dropped 0.6 percent, led by a 2.2 percent decline in Egypt's largest lender Commercial International Bank  and a 4.5 percent fall in El Sewedy Electric SWDY.CA .

Global Telecom Holding fell 3.1 percent. The telecom operator said its board extended maturity of its $100 million revolving credit facility from VEON.

Madinet Nasr slipped 2.8 percent. The firm approved the sale of its non-residential land plot for 184.8 million Egyptian pounds ($10.69 million).

The Abu Dhabi index slipped 0.3 percent with the country's largest lender First Abu Dhabi Bank losing 0.8 percent and Emirates Telecommunications Group dropping 0.2 percent.

Dubai's index was flat, with its largest listed-developer Emaar Properties sliding 1.7 percent.

($1 = 3.7503 riyals)

($1 = 17.2800 Egyptian pounds)

(Reporting by Ateeq Shariff in Bengaluru Editing by Gareth Jones) ((AteeqUr.Shariff@thomsonreuters.com; +918067497129;))

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